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Assemblyman's Bill Aims to Reverse California Foster Parent Decline

A new report shows the number of foster parents in California has dropped by 30 percent since 1999. A California Assemblyman has introduced a bill to reverse the trend. Marianne Russ reports.

Assemblyman's Bill Aims to Reverse California Foster Parent Decline

A new report shows the number of foster parents in California has dropped by 30 percent since 1999. A California Assemblyman has introduced a bill to reverse the trend. Marianne Russ reports. 

Eli Haddaway : My first name is Eli and my last name is Haddaway.

Meet 5-year old Eli.

Eli : I sing and I dance and I do my happy dance. You are my sunshine…

He was a foster child until Dawn Haddaway adopted him. The Sunnyvale woman has three adopted sons and one foster child. Over time, she's taken in 22 foster kids.

Dawn Haddaway : We nurture them, we feed them, we educate them and we even love them, but they don't belong to us, they belong to the state, and we need the support.

The average foster care payment is about $500 a month. There's been no increase for six years.

Frank Mecca is with the county welfare directors association, who helped to produce a new report on foster care in the state.

Mecca : The average Californian pays more to kennel their dog than our state pays to support the care of foster children.

Mecca says that's why foster parents are quitting -- and new ones are hard to find.

Democratic Assemblyman Jim Beall has authored a bill to give foster parents a 5 percent increase, and automatic cost of living adjustments in the future.

The governor's budget would maintain the current rates for foster parents. A spokesperson with his office says foster youth are a top priority for the governor -- and says with other competing budget priorities, maintaining the status quo is actually a good thing.

As for Dawn Haddaway, she admits 5 percent wouldn't make a huge difference, but she would appreciate the signal of support.